Relatives seek damages after death of brother

Staff Writer

The relatives of a man who died after attending a music festival in Howell are suing the Howell Police Department and other parties in connection with his death.

Timothy J. Harden, 38, of Belmar, died on Sept. 5. According to attorney Thomas Mallon, who represents his sisters, Harden had been volunteering at the Souper Groove music festival that was held on the grounds of the New Jersey Latvian Society, Route 33, Howell.

Harden’s sisters, Theresa Taylor and Melissa Barna, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit as part of their quest for answers as to what occurred that day.

The defendants in the action include Howell Township; Howell Chief of Police Andrew A. Kudrick Jr.; members of the Howell Police Department; Priedaine New Jersey Latvian Society; Souper Groove, LLP; event planners/ promoters Jeffrey Mahajan, Andrew R. Meyer and Christy Meyer; and Griffin’s Security, LLC, which provided security at the event.

Mallon said he is attempting to identify the police officers who were involved in the incident.

“All of that information has been withheld from us so far. We just know several officers were involved and we sued the Howell police. At this point the officers have been named as John Does and we will fill in the blanks … when we know the identities of the officers involved,” he said.

Asked for comment, Kudrick said, “Once the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office investigation is complete, I may be able to comment further. Until then I cannot (comment), except to add that all of the involved officers remain on full, unrestricted duty.”

Township Attorney McKenna Torcivia said, “The insurance company will provide the defense. However, we have not been served with the complaint yet, therefore, we cannot speak about it.”

No other defendants could be reached for comment.

Mallon has said he was told by a festival organizer and security personnel that Harden was creating a disturbance at the festival.

The attorney said security personnel detained Harden until Howell police officers arrived. Harden died later that day after being transported to a hospital.

Mallon said an autopsy revealed Harden had a fractured thyroid cartilage in his neck. He said an examination determined Harden had a blood alcohol content of 0.11 percent and cocaine in his system at the time of his death.

The lawsuit states that festival staff and/or security personnel responded to Harden, who was experiencing a medical and/or psychiatric episode, by restraining him with excessive and unreasonable force.

The lawsuit states that Harden had appeared to be agitated, fearful and in obvious need of medical assistance. The action claims Howell police officers who responded to the scene used excessive and deadly force in restraining Harden. His sisters are seeking damages related to his death.

— Contact Jennifer Ortiz at